With plenty of education-related activity brewing in Phoenix, the A for Arizona team was on the road early this week to Tucson showcasing some ‘A’-grade schools. We were fortunate to have Pima County School Superintendent Dr. Linda Arzoumanian, as well as State Representatives Stephanie Mach and T.J. Shope join us on our school tours.

First stop was Sonoran Science Academy – Broadway, where evidence of high standards could be plainly seen all around campus. As early as kindergarten, students begin to learn coding and computer science with code.org. Eighth grade scholars leave knowing three languages, including Turkish, and have a deep appreciation for diverse cultures. Last year, they took home 1st place in Arizona MathLeague. Sonoran Science Academy is setting a great example of a rigorous, college-prep, STEM-focused education. They are turning out tomorrow’s engineers, scientists, and more!

Next, we visited Presidio School, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Perhaps Presidio Family more aptly describes this school that prides itself on a deep sense of community and a commitment to developing the whole child. Presidio offers a challenging classical education where the arts support and stimulate learning in other domains like math, science, and reading. The faculty nurtures and supports every student’s journey towards academic excellence and leans on the school-family partnership to support its high academic standards. Together they live up to the expectation that every student can and will meet rigorous college and career readiness standards.

Our final school stop of the day was Carrillo K-5 Magnet School in Tucson Unified School District. Carrillo focuses on communications & creative arts and is an A+ School of Excellence™ with the Arizona Educational Foundation. Their mission is to educate tomorrow’s leaders through the whole child with minds-on, hands-on learning. Students develop understanding of rigorous academics through performances, art displays, cultural events, and long-standing traditions. As we were leaving, the whole student body sang the Carrillo school song, epitomizing the pride they rightly have for their ‘A’-school.

Days like these are always inspiring. Each school model we visited was distinctly different, yet perfectly tailored to meet the needs of its students. The common thread among the campuses is the strong leadership of teachers and principals and their push to hold all students to the highest expectations, no exceptions. With those foundational elements in place, any school anywhere can succeed just like the students at Sonoran, Presidio, and Carrillo.